Agenda item

Questions to Members of the Cabinet

A written question has been received from Councillor David Howarth to the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member (Neighbourhoods and Streetscene)




(a)          Questions to the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member (Neighbourhoods and Streetscene)


Councillor David Howarth submitted a written question to Councillor Caroline Moon as follows:


At the meeting of the council held on 26th September 2018, you were asked about the life expectancy of a recycling bin and whether there is a rolling programme to replace stock across the borough.

In answer you gave a commitment to investigate and report back. As no answer has been forthcoming, could you now advise council -


i)          Given that recycling bins sit outside in all weathers and in all temperatures and that eventually plastic becomes brittle, what is the life expectancy of our recycling bins?


ii)         What guarantee or warranty is given by the suppliers as to the durability and after what period would they expect them to be replaced?


iii)       What is the unit cost of a bin to the local authority, and how much profit is being made on the recharge to our local council tax payers for a replacement?


iii)       The bin replacement policy states that a householder whose bin has been damaged, lost or stolen, is entering into a contract for a replacement. Given that the bins remain the property of the council, and that there is a statutory duty to empty them, what contract is being entered into as this is neither a purchase or provision of a service, and where can a written copy of the contract be found?


iv)       Why when being charged for a replacement bin, are residents being asked if they want to “waive their rights” to enable them to receive a replacement within five days, after which they will not be entitled to any refund? How does this concur with your “pay first, investigate later” policy where every resident is deemed to be guilty until proven innocent by the council, which states that if it is subsequently found that our crews are at fault you will be refunded?


v)         Why are residents who lodge a complaint being told over the telephone and in writing that if they are not happy, they should contact the “local Councillor for your area, as this was decided by them in 2017?” Something that is patently untrue. Seven members of the cabinet took this decision, which came to council to note.

Forty-three councillors at that time were denied any vote on it, either for or against.


vi)       Who has issued this instruction to Gateway staff, and are you content with the authority giving out incorrect information to members of the public to deflect the blame for what is the policy of your administration?


Councillor Caroline Moon gave the following response:


Whilst some bins have lasted up to 20 years, the warranty given by our suppliers is 11 years. In respect of the unit cost of a bin to the Council, it is slightly over the £30 replacement charge.


Legal Services would be able to advise on the contract and the waiver of rights outside of the meeting. Members are encouraged to help residents with any complaints, hence the advice given to local councillors.


In response to a question asked by Councillor Hancock regarding weekly food collections, Councillor Moon responded by acknowledged that this was an area that was being monitored by the District Council’s Network and that district councils were inputting into the discussion. At this stage it was very much a watching brief.


Councillor Renee Blow questioned whether those dogs that are exercise on extendable dog leads were under control in comparison to dogs that were off lead and could be fined up to £1000 for being so. Councillor Caroline Moon accepted that this was a valid point and offered to look into this situation with Councillor Blow outside of the meeting.


(b)       Questions to the Cabinet Member (Corporate Support and Assets)


In response to a question from a member of the public, Councillor Colin Clark reiterated that no decision had been made on the use of land at Balcarres Green.


(c)          Questions to the Cabinet Member (Public Health, Wellbeing and Environmental)


Councillor Jane Bell mentioned how much she had enjoyed working with Councillor Karen Walton in her role as the Shadow Cabinet Member, which was reciprocated by Councillor Walton.


(d)          Questions to the Cabinet Member (Leisure and Regeneration)


In response to a question from Councillor Keith Martin, Councillor Phil Smith said that he would investigate the problems of disrepair to the gateway features across the Borough.


Councillor Matthew Tomlinson asked the Cabinet Member why the consultation on Bent Lane was being facilitated by who he understood to be owned by Accord, part of the Enterprise Housing Association and asked if it was the Council’s plan to build on this land.


Councillor Phil Smith responded to say that he had never heard of Accord, he had been briefed about a workshop that would take place for residents that would be facilitated by officers of the Council.

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